Of all the fixtures, furniture, accents, window treatments, and other odds and ends you will bring into your vacation rental property, there are nine that stand out to me as most important. This of course excludes safety items like fire extinguishers, C02 and smoke detectors, sturdy railings, etc. From a purely experience-driven standpoint, these nine items either leave the biggest impression on my guests or are most asked about prior to check-in.
1. Solid bed frame and quality mattress
This one is going to cost you a little extra up front, but it is so worth it. Having a good night’s sleep on vacation leaves such a positive impression on guests as you never know what you’re going to get. Skip the hand-me-down mattresses and bed frames. Invest in a good quality mattress and frame that can withstand wear and tear, and that is not easy to move. Renters can be hard on your home. If a bed is easy to move, it surely will be shifted or moved against your will at some point. Not only will a sturdy frame remain where you put it (preventing the floors from getting scratched), but will be less susceptible to damage, and will provide a more comfortable sleep.
2. Reliable, large coffee pot
Set yourself up with old reliable. A pour-over coffee maker might be fun for your own home, but it could be perceived as complicated, unknown, or delicate to your guests who may not be coffee connoisseurs themselves. The number one question I get asked by renters is whether we have a coffee percolator. You know, the classic plug-in machine that you probably grew up with. They might not be trendy but an easy to use, reliable percolator with a large pot will be a blessing to your guests. No one wants to have to call the property owner to ask how to use an appliance before they’ve even had their morning coffee.
3. Dining table that seats the number of guests that the home can sleep
If your home can sleep up to 16 people, then you should have just as much space available at the dining table. If everyone is vacationing together then they likely want to eat and drink together too. The dining table can also be a place for casually hanging out, playing board games, etc. This is another question I’m asked very often, and can be a deal breaker when guests are deciding between similar properties. A good option is to have benches situated near the dining area, so that guests can move them to the table for extra seating if needed.
4. Outdoor space for eating and cooking
If most of your rentals occur within the summer months, then you should assume that people will want to spend time outside. The decor doesn’t have to be fancy, but simple, sturdy outdoor furniture and a grill are a welcome amenity for renters. If you have a grill, ensure your cleaners know that it has to be scrubbed and kept in good condition, otherwise it could easily go unnoticed.
5. Thermostat that is easy to control and monitor
Having to wear unnecessary layers and feeling like your toes are going to fall off, or sweating profusely and steaming up the kitchen can be a complete buzz kill as a guest. Invest in a Nest or similar digital thermostat that is completely foolproof. If the guests are questioning how the thermostat functions, if they’re pressing the right buttons, or if it’s even on… their experience will be lesser and it can harm your rating. A Nest (or similar device) will allow you to control the temperature remotely and save on heating and cooling when no one is staying in the home.
6. 2 – 3 sets of towels and linens for quick turnover
It may seem excessive, but when you only have a few hours for turnover between guests you will be so happy to have spare sets of bedding, towels, and other linens available. Throw one set in the wash or take it to an off-site laundromat while the bed linens and towels can be replenished right away. This is a total time-saver for hosts and cleaners.
7. On-site laundry
Not only does having laundry on-site make it easier and more efficient for cleaning, but it can be a bonus for guests. You never know when someone will spill wine on their shirt, or a family may have to wash their kids clothes, etc. Allowing your guests to use your laundry machines is a small gesture that can go a long way.
8. Soap and shampoo
Although a short term rental is not a hotel, people are accustomed to soap and shampoo being made available to them when they go on vacation. It’s a nice gesture to put out soap and shampoo for your guests even if it is not mandatory, especially since they may not realize they didn’t bring their own until they really need it!
9. Smart TV
There’s not much to say here except that we are now solidly in the age of smart TV’s and people expect to have access to Netflix wherever they go. You don’t need to provide an account for them to use as they can log in to their own. People are no longer in the habit of carting a DVD player and movies around with them when they rent a cottage or head up north. What’s worse than not having access to decent channels or a Smart TV is when the TV doesn’t work at all and merely acts as a box on the wall. This might sound extreme but I’ve stayed in rentals where this is the case, and it’s very frustrating. Avoid having several remotes and just keep it simple. Invest in an inexpensive smart TV and make lounging smooth and easy for guests who want to unwind with a movie.
What amenities are important to you in a vacation rental?
Freelance writer and photographer living in Toronto. She is the author and photographer of two cookbooks, Everyone’s Welcome (2019) and Allergen-Free Desserts (2015).